Ed Sheeran Accused of Infringement, Royalty Payments Stopped Over This Song

Ed Sheeran is one of those artists who is almost universally liked and respected, even if he does bump into the occasional controversy that casts doubt on his charming, laidback image. Though some people can’t stand him and his pop crossover stylings, his music continues to break records. A quick review of his songs and collaborations prove he’s a chameleon who can jump around genres with ease.

Sheeran’s been raking in the loot, collecting awards, and blowing up the charts since his first album dropped way back in 2011. The fame-shy singer-songwriter is now coming under fire for his music and it’s affecting his coffers.

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran | Getty Images/Mike Marsland/WireImage

Sheeran accused of stealing

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid hearing Sheeran’s “Shape of You” on the radio, during a random streaming session, or at an event, we don’t know how you did it. Released in 2017, the song became a global smash, staying in the number one spot for 12 weeks and then in the top 10 for months after that, per Forbes.

But the song is now at the center of a legal battle. According to The Times, documents have been filed with the High Court accusing the pop star of what amounts to musical plagiarism. 26-year-old Sam Chokri, who goes by the name Sami Switch, alleges that parts of “Shape of You” were taken from his 2015 composition, “Oh Why.”

He asserts that he sent his tune to Sheeran’s camp with the hope of being able to work with him, but never heard back. Chokri then heard the chorus from his song on “Shape of You.”

In the suit, Chokri also alludes to claims that Sheeran is known for a pattern of lifting material from other artists, including TLC and Marvin Gaye. “Shape of You” however, does credit “No Scrubs” writers Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, Kandi Burruss, and Kevin Briggs. It should be noted that Cottle and Burruss are famous singers from the ‘90s girl group, Xscape.

Chokri won one case so far and Sheeran can’t collect royalties

Although the court case is still pending, Chokri scored a victory when he filed a copyright infringement claim against Sheeran with the Performing Rights Society. The group ruled in his favor, which, according to Metro UK, prompted Sheeran to publicly defend himself from the accusations.

Sheeran filed a counterclaim against Chokri that accuses him of damaging his reputation and stopping his income. At this time, Sheeran’s royalty payments have been halted until the court case is settled.

Sheeran has faced multiple copyright accusations during his career

In the United States, Sheeran is being sued for $100 million over Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” According to BBC News, descendants of one of the song’s writers, Ed Townsend, claim that Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” copies “the melody, rhythms, harmonies, drums, bass line, backing chorus, tempo, syncopation and looping” of Gaye’s chart-topping ode to lust.” The case is currently pending trial as the district court awaits the verdict of a similar case involving Led Zeppelin and another party. That case could set a precedent and influence the outcome of Sheeran’s.

Sheeran previously settled a case of copyright infringement back in 2017 for his song, “Photograph,” where the writers of an X Factor track, “Amazing,” claimed the melody and structure was similar. BBC News reported that initially, Sheeran was slapped with a $20 million suit in a California court.

Although he has new music out, “Shape of You” remains of the Sheeran’s biggest bops, boasting more than 4 billion hits on YouTube. Public opinion won’t sway a court ruling but fans can compare both songs to hear if they can spot any similarities.